New Year, Controversy

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The two newest members of the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors, District 4's Joe Norwood and Eddie Harper of District 1, were elected president and vice president, respectively, at the first meeting of 2004.

The nominations were made by the board's most senior member, District 2 supervisor Jimmie Smith.

Norwood has been a board member for only two years. For Harper, it was his first day on the job. The action meant District 5 supervisor Ray Boswell was passed over. Some felt Boswell might be elected by the normal rotation process.

"I'm pleased that the board thinks enough of my leadership that we can step up to the challenge and move this community forward," Norwood said.

But problems between Norwood and Boswell developed almost immediately after the new president told a resident who appeared before the board that, in conformity to board policy, he would have five minutes to speak. Boswell said he did not want to impose time limits.

"What's your point, sir?" asked Norwood.

"That you're not going to dictate to Ray Boswell," Boswell replied.

"Well, when someone comes before the board to discuss the general good and welfare, they will have five minutes from now on," said Norwood.

"I just want you to know I'm not going to lay around any and let you dictate to me like you want to," Boswell said. "It ain't personal. This ain't nothing personal.

"Do you have anything else, sir?" Norwood asked.

"Don't push me, buddy," said Boswell.

"I'm not pushing you, sir," Norwood said.

Supervisors Craig Hitt and Jimmie Smith spoke up, supporting the five minute rule. Shortly afterward, Smith advanced the idea of a new street and road bond issue.

"I think it's been talked about. One, $4 million. One, $3.4 million. There's been talk about up to $5 million, but I think 3.4 is the number I would like to go on," Smith said.

A special meeting has been set for Tuesday to further discuss the plan.